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The contraceptive pill is a medication that every woman will have taken at least once in her lifetime. Being a contraceptive, the pill not only acts as a form of birth control, but it can also be used as a tool to balance and regulate hormones as well as hormone-related issues such as acne, menstrual-related symptoms, and disorders like irregular periods and painful menstrual cramps, PCOS, and even endometriosis.

The pill helps to regulate your hormones. If you choose to go off it, either because you’re looking to start a family, you’ve found a more natural remedy to your hormonal woes, or you are wary of the health issues associated with the pill, then you may be in for a surprise.

Post-birth control syndrome is a term used to describe symptoms that generally arise 5-6 months after a woman goes off birth control. Common symptoms include acne flare-ups and hair loss. Ironically, these flare-ups are what will drive women to get back on the pill, in an effort to control their breakouts.

What causes post-pill acne breakouts?

There are two types of oral contraceptives: the progestogen-only pill, which only contains the hormone progestogen, and the combination pill that contains both progesterone and estrogen. Many women opt for the combined pill, which has been shown to help treat acne. Thus, going off of it will have an effect on your skin. What’s more, women who have never had any skin concerns in their lives and have not used contraceptives for any skin issues are still at risk of acne breakouts once they stop taking the pill.

So, why exactly does acne flare up after you stop taking birth control? acne breakouts and the pill | Longevity Live

1. Androgen Rebound

Androgens are hormones produced by the adrenal glands, testes, and ovaries. Found in both men and women, they’re often thought of as “male hormones” because the most well-known androgen is testosterone.

As mentioned, the pill regulates hormones in your body. One way it does this is by suppressing the level of androgen, particularly testosterone. When you stop taking the pill, you are likely to experience androgen rebound. This is when your body attempts to return hormone levels back to normal by kicking into high gear and creating more androgens.

So how does this cause acne? Well, androgens are capable of binding to the oil glands in the skin, and they can encourage them to overproduce sebum. In doing so, excess sebum on the skin, as well as any lingering bacteria, can lead to breakouts.

2. Overproduction of sebum

Sebum is an oil produced naturally by the body that helps to protect and hydrate the skin. Once you get off the pill, the oil glands’ most likely response is going to be to increase the natural production of sebum. In doing so, your skin will be left with an oily complexion and blocked pores.

As mentioned, the production of sebum is likely to be exacerbated by androgen rebound or even a decrease in zinc levels. Zinc helps to moderate your skin and if this is compromised, it can cause inflammation in the skin.

Luckily, there are ways in which you can avoid post-birth control breakouts without going back onto the pill. All it takes is some minor lifestyle hacks.

7 Hacks for Post-Birth Control Acne

1. Balance your blood sugar levels

According to a study published in The Linacre Quarterly, one of the side-effects associated with birth control pills is the fact that it affects blood sugar regulation and insulin production. Excess levels of insulin can then lead to increased levels of androgen and, as we know, this can then lead to more breakouts.

To address this, it’s important that you learn how to balance your blood sugar levels.  This can be done by consuming regular meals that contain healthy servings of protein, fiber, and fat. These include cruciferous vegetables, legumes, and extra virgin olive oil. It’s also advisable to cut back on sugar, alcohol, and processed grains.

2. Check your gut

gut | Lonngevity LIVE


If you weren’t already aware, what affects your gut also affects your health and that of your skin.

The gut consists of an integral balance of good and bad bacteria that helps to keep you healthy. The pill can disrupt this balance and this can also affect the immune system. Once this happens, inflammation occurs and this becomes evident through the appearance of breakouts on the skin. This does not change once you go off the pill. If you want to combat your post-birth control breakouts, then it’s important to reduce inflammation and maintain your gut health. 

Encouraging a healthy gut flora can be done by including foods rich in both pre-and probiotics. These foods include yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, chicory root, bananas, and even garlic. Additionally, one should also take a high-quality probiotic such as Probiotics 60 Billion CFU, Klair Labs Ther-Biotic Complete, and Vitamin Bounty Pro 50 Probiotic with Prebiotics.

3. Go clean, everywhere

Toxins are everywhere, and they’re incredibly hard to avoid. However, reducing your exposure to them isn’t as difficult.

What you eat, drink and clean your skin with can have a significant effect on how well you handle post-pill acne breakouts.

In regards to your diet, it’s important to avoid foods that can trigger inflammation such as sugar, alcohol, refined grains, and processed foods. Keep your diet as clean as possible by consuming only organic and whole foods and increasing your intake of water. This will not only decrease inflammation, but can also alleviate any irritation in your skin.

In regards to your skincare, clean beauty is the way to go. While the FDA has yet to provide a definition for clean beauty, the consensus is that you should only use skincare products that are free of toxins and only contain natural, organic, and man-made ingredients that do not irritate the skin and will not cause any hormonal-related issues. Ingredients to stay clear of include parabens, fragrances, and phthalates.   

acne breakouts and the pillIf you want to address your post-birth control acne in your skincare routine, look out for products that contain ingredients that will help to address inflammation without irritating your skin. These include tea tree oil, green tea, and kaolin clay.

4. Load up on more nutrients

According to some studies, the pill depletes many nutrients and minerals in your body (1). One of these nutrients is zinc and, according to a review article, it helps to prevent breakouts by regulating testosterone, killing bacteria, and preventing blocked pores.

After getting off the pill, you can recover the lost nutrients by consuming more zinc-rich foods such as spinach, chickpeas, hemp seeds, and cashews. You can also opt for a multivitamin.

5. Manage your stress

According to a study published in the journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology increased stress is strongly correlated with greater acne severity. This may have something to do with the fact that stress encourages the production of androgens through the adrenal glands. As mentioned, excess androgen can cause breakouts. Therefore, if you begin to battle with post-birth control acne, then it’s important that you have your stress levels under control.

If you’re looking to manage your stress levels, you can do so by meditating, investing in a coloring book, listening to music, or even hugging someone for 20 seconds as this can decrease stress levels (2).

6. Support your liver

Your liver is your body’s ultimate detox system as it helps to cleanse it of toxins and other waste products. That said, a lack of nutrients and an overload of toxins can affect the functionality of the liver.

To support liver function, it’s important to reduce your exposure to toxins. This can affect your hormones and place excess strain on the liver. You can also limit the amount of fat in your diet and reduce your intake of alcohol.

7. Watch your dairy 

According to various bodies of research, intake of dairy has been associated with acne flare-ups (3, 4, 5).

Whilst researchers are still unsure of where the root of the correlation lies, the consensus is that it has something to do with the fact that most dairy products contain hormones and inflammatory proteins such as casein. Both of these factors can serve to worsen your post-birth control breakout.

You don’t have to completely eliminate dairy from your diet. Rather, opt for other forms of it, such as grass-fed ghee. In regards to milk, you can go for organic dairy milk. However, we would recommend almond milk as a better choice.

You don’t have to stay on the pill because you’re worried about post-birth control breakouts. You also don’t have to think of going back on the pill to address the issue. While it may take some time before you get back to clear skin, it is possible to achieve it with a few lifestyle changes.

Want to know more?

Toxins are everywhere, and while occasional contact with these substances isn’t an issue, the fact is that we come into contact with them multiple times a day. Eventually,  they will soon affect our hormones, and jeopardize your general health. Click here to find out how you can avoid these compounds to protect both your hormones and your health.

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a journalist graduate and writer, specializing in health, beauty, and wellness. She also has a passion for poetry, equality, and natural hair. Identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to provide the latest information on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle and leave a more equitable society behind.


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